Barbara West (TV news anchor)

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Barbara Schmitt
Born Barbara Schmitt
Other names Barbara West
Education University of Vermont
Occupation News Anchor
Title Miss Vermont 1969
Miss University of Vermont 1969
Beauty pageant titleholder
Hair color Blonde
Eye color Brown
Miss America 1970

Barbara (Schmitt) West (born 1948) is a television journalist and former news anchor for WFTV in Orlando, Florida. She and her husband have now organized a not-for-profit foundation that raises significant amounts of money for leading hospitals, animal shelters, hospices, educational institutions and other charitable organizations across the country.

Personal information[edit]

West attended the University of Vermont and obtained a Master's degree. While there, she won the 1969 Miss Vermont contest and was selected to represent her state in the national Miss America competition. Before starting her career in television news, she was an Assistant Professor at the university.

West's husband Wade West is a former political strategist for both Democrats and Republicans, including presidential cabinet members and the Bush and Clinton administrations.

Journalism career[edit]

West was principal assistant to Peter Jennings while he was anchor for ABC's World News Tonight in London. She helped cover such stories as the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana and the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Since 1992 she has served as health reporter and anchor for Orlando's WFTV news at noon and 5:30. As a health reporter she traveled to Canada to report on its health care system and to the Ukraine to report on the 10th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster and its health effects. She received the 2002 Summit Award for Community service from Central Florida Women's Resource Center and an Emmy for her reporting on women fighting breast cancer. On her official biography page on, she lists her first two specific accomplishments as covering the inauguration of President George W. Bush and covering the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.[1]

2008 presidential race interviews[edit]

On October 23, 2008, West interviewed Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden with questions she personally wrote.[2] West asked Biden if he was "embarrassed about Barack Obama's affiliation with ACORN" given allegations of voter registration fraud by ACORN in elections past, likened Obama's response to a question from Ohio voter "Joe the Plumber" to a quote from Karl Marx, asked how Obama is not being a Marxist given his views on "spreading the wealth", and questioned if Obama might lead the U.S. "into a socialist country much like Sweden." At one point, Biden asked West if she was joking, and later suggested she was offering "talking points" against Obama.[3][4][5]

The Obama campaign responded saying "This station's interview with Joe Biden wasn't tough — it was just absurd."[2] The Obama campaign cancelled a subsequent interview with the candidate's wife, Jill Biden.[6] Obama's Florida spokeswoman called West "both combative and woefully uninformed about simple facts."[7] WFTV's news director defended her, saying she had not been inappropriately tough: "I'd rather be known as aggressive than pulling punches. We ask questions on behalf of viewers."[8][9]

While praised by "birther conspirators", reactions from mainstream commentators were negative. Her performance was criticized as a "desperate audition for a primetime job at Fox News", considered a partisan stunt after she gave a soft interview to Republican candidate John McCain[10][11][12][13] and West was characterized as exhibiting conservative bias.[11][14] Others said that these characterizations were unfair and that Biden had overreacted.[5] A few noted her husband's connections with the Republican Party, questioning if that was an influencing factor. West attempted and failed to deflect criticisms by promoting her husband's relationships with the Clinton Administration State Department and the Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights Enforcement.


  1. ^ "Barbara West - WFTV News Story - WFTV Orlando". WFTV. 2008. Archived from the original on 2 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  2. ^ a b "Obama Campaign Responds To "Absurd" WFTV Interview Of Joe Biden". WFTV. Archived from the original on 30 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  3. ^ West, Barbara (October 27, 2008). "Barbara West Joe Biden Transcript and Video". WFTV. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  4. ^ Blitzer, Wolf (October 27, 2008). "THE SITUATION ROOM". CNN. Retrieved November 19, 2008.
  5. ^ a b O'Reilly, Bill (2008-10-28). "Florida Anchor Barbara West Responds to Controversial Biden Interview". Fox News. Archived from the original on 31 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-10.
  6. ^ "Biden to Florida news anchor: 'Are you joking?'". Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  7. ^ Orlando Sentinel
  8. ^ Political Ticker
  9. ^ Boedeker, Hal (2008-10-28). "WFTV anchor Barbara West stirs frenzy with Joe Biden interview". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on 31 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-10.
  10. ^ "McCain one-on-one". WFTV. Archived from the original on 15 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  11. ^ a b Bercovici, Jeff (2008-10-26). "Local Newslady Goes All Roy Cohn on Biden". Portfolio. Retrieved 2008-10-28. Personally, I was impressed by Biden's good humor in the face of what was less a grilling than a desperate audition for a primetime job at Fox News.
  12. ^ Zaleski, Katharine. Biden Slammed During Florida Interview, Same Anchor Gives McCain Softballs. The Huffington Post. October 25, 2008.
  13. ^ Thomas, Mike (2008-10-27). "That's the last time John McCain helps out Barbara West". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  14. ^ Olbermann, Keith (2008-10-27). "'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday October 27, 2008". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-10-28.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Elizabeth Sackler
Miss Vermont
Succeeded by
Pati Papineau